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“Sit” is the first command most puppies learn. It’s a foundational dog obedience skill that helps your puppy practice focus and practice self-control. For example, asking your puppy to “sit” before crossing the street encourages them to focus their attention on you, and not get overwhelmed or excited by traffic in the road.
You can train your puppy to “sit” in no time at all, and it will be infinitely useful throughout her life. Read on to learn how to train a puppy to sit.
Puppy training doesn’t take a whole lot more than you, your puppy, and some treats, but some training supplies will help. You’ll need:
- A collar and leash. This reflective collar from Max & Neo is a great option: it’s adjustable with a heavy-duty snap buckle. In addition, for every collar purchased, the company donates one to a shelter pet.
- Tasty treats (these soft, chewy Wellness treats are perfect for puppy teeth)
- A clicker, if you plan to use one. Otherwise, choose a bridge word like “yes!” to connect the desired behavior to the reward (more on clickers and other training supplies here)
Once you have everything you need, you’ll want a secure location to train. Start indoors, and gradually move to outdoor locations with more distractions as your puppy masters the command.
Teach the “sitting” motion
Most puppies “sit” naturally on their own, so to teach the sit command, all you have to do is connect the command to the behavior.
To start, get on your puppy’s level, either crouching/kneeling on the floor or sitting in a chair beside her. Next, use a treat to lure her into the sitting position:
- Hold a treat close to your puppy’s nose and slowly move it up and towards the back of her head
- Your puppy’s head will probably follow the treat as you move your hand up
- As your puppy’s head moves up, her rear end will lower towards the floor
- As soon as your puppy is sitting, click or use your bridge word and immediately give her the treat.
Repeat the above process until your puppy is sitting reliably every time. Then, you can transition to using a hand signal and verbal command. The above video offers a clear explanation of the whole process.
Troubleshooting the “sit”command
If your puppy paws or bites at your hands when you move the treat over her head, simply pull the treat out of sight behind your back, and wait calmly for her to settle down. Even if she runs around you in circles, be patient! Eventually, your puppy will realize the treat isn’t coming and calm down. She may even put herself in a sitting position.
As soon as your puppy stops trying to get the treat, click or say “yes!” and give her a reward. The timing is key as it helps your puppy learn that calm = reward.
Sometimes, teaching the “settle” concurrently with “sit” helps particularly excitable puppies. Click here for more information on important training commands.
Once your puppy reliably lowers her bottom when you say “sit,” start increasing the length of time between when her bottom hits the floor and when you reward her with a treat. This teaches her that “sit” means “keep sitting.” The important thing is to add time gradually.
- Kneel in front of your puppy and say “sit.”
- When her rear end hits the ground, don’t click/reward right away. Instead, count to two in your head. Then click or say “yes” and give her the treat.
- Gradually increase the duration, working your way up from a few seconds to a few minutes. This may take quite a few short training sessions.
Practice makes perfect
Training your puppy to “sit” is one of the easiest obedience training tasks, but all training takes time, patience, and consistency. Remember, puppies have short attention spans. Practice training in 10-15 minute intervals, and if your puppy seems overly distracted or tired, take a break. You can always pick up again later.
Check out our blog archives for additional puppy training tips and tricks, and have fun bonding with your new best friend!